How Do I Make a Monthly Meal Plan?

B. Miller

A monthly meal plan can be a great way to ensure that you and your family are eating healthy meals on a regular basis, and may also help you to save money at the grocery store. It can be a challenge to plan for a month's meals all at once; some people find it easier to start with a week or two, and then move up to a month once you get the hang of it. With a little preparation, however, it's not too difficult. You will want to begin by collecting a number of different recipes, and determining how many meals those recipes will likely create. Planning the grocery list is the next step; some things may be bought in bulk in advance, but other fresh ingredients will need to be purchased weekly.

A monthly meal plan can ensure people are eating healthy food.
A monthly meal plan can ensure people are eating healthy food.

The best place to begin when trying to create a monthly meal plan is to go through your existing recipe books and start looking for ones that look interesting. You might also check online for new recipes. It is generally recommended to select about twenty recipes for the month; it is likely that you'll have enough leftovers that you won't need to create a new recipe every day of the month. Also, if you particularly like a recipe, you might want to make it again in the month.

Including children in the planning process allows them to feel involved and enthusiastic.
Including children in the planning process allows them to feel involved and enthusiastic.

When you are creating the monthly meal plan from your recipes, most people find it helpful to write it down. This makes it easier to see at a glance what you'll be making, as well as make sure you aren't making similar meals too close together. Ensure that each meal includes a blend of nutritious foods such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. This will ensure the meals are healthy as well as filling.

As you are writing the monthly meal plan down, it may be helpful to start making your grocery lists at this point. Identify things that can be purchased in advance, or fresh items that will need to be purchased the week they will be used. Compare this to the items you already have on hand so you do not buy duplicates, and then try to shop when things are on sale, or with coupons, to save some money. It may seem like a big project to make a monthly meal plan at the start of each month, but it will become easier over time, and it will really save time throughout the rest of the month when you already know what to have for dinner.

Grocery lists help with time management and organization.
Grocery lists help with time management and organization.

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Discussion Comments


I make a lot of meals using canned food. It is usually cheaper than fresh food, and you can keep it in your cabinets for months or years before it expires.

I love using canned black beans as a side item by seasoning them with spices. All I have to do is heat them up with a touch of olive oil and seasoning. A can is only a few cents, and it will feed four people.

I also buy canned salmon and form it into patties to fry. Sometimes, I just saute it with teriyaki sauce and corn to make a one pot meal.

I like to purchase canned biscuits, but I only use a can twice a week, because these are more expensive than canned vegetables and fish. You want to always keep the cost of items in mind when planning how often to use them.


@lighth0se33 – Soup has become a big part of my monthly meal plan. It is just as delicious reheated as it was to begin with, and it usually retains its good flavor for over a week.

I make chicken noodle soup with celery, carrots, and conchiglie pasta, and we eat it about three more times after the first meal. I also make chicken tortilla soup with zucchini, black beans, corn, and spices that is a big hit over and over.

The only thing you have to remember is to leave off any ingredients that might go stale over time. For example, with the chicken tortilla soup, you are supposed to use corn chips as a topping. I always tell people to add those to their individual servings, because wet, old corn chips would ruin the soup in the fridge.


No one in my household has a problem with eating leftovers, so this has made making a monthly meal plan fairly simple. When I make meals like bacon spaghetti, I make a very large pot of it, and we eat it once more at dinner during the week, as well as at lunch once or twice.

Some things just don't taste as good when reheated, so I don't make as much of them at one time. I plan for one meal when making stuff that will only taste good the first time it is hot.

So far, I've been relying on bacon spaghetti and beef stir fry as my go-to reusable meals. Does anyone have any other suggestions for meals that you can eat several times before they disappear?


Since I have begun making monthly meal plans, I have only had to go shopping once every two weeks instead of every week. I buy in bulk and use coupons, and I believe I have saved quite a bit over time by doing this.

It may not seem like it at first, because you do have to shell out more when you are buying larger quantities at once. However, I have kept track, and I have saved over time.

The fruits and vegetables that I buy generally stay good for a couple of weeks. The only exception to this is bananas. If my bananas start to get overripe, I just freeze them or use them in milkshakes.

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